David Schaper

Based in NPR's Chicago bureau, David Schaper covers breaking news in Chicago and around the Midwest, as well as a broad range of important social, cultural, political, and business issues in the region. His reports can be heard on NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition.

Schaper has recently profiled service members killed in Iraq, as well as members of a reserve unit returning home to Wisconsin. He has also produced reports on the important political issues in key Midwest battleground states, education issues related to "No Child Left Behind," the bankruptcy of United Airlines as well as other aviation and transportation issues, and the devastation left by tornados, storms, blizzards, and floods in the Midwest.

Schaper brings more than 15 years of experience in radio news to NPR. Prior to joining NPR in December 2002, Schaper spent nine years working as an award-winning reporter and editor for Chicago Public Radio's WBEZ-FM. For three years he covered education issues, reporting in-depth on the problems, financial and otherwise, plaguing Chicago's public schools. In 1996, Schaper was named assistant news editor, managing the station's daily news coverage and editing a staff of six. He also continued general assignment reporting, covering breaking news, politics, transportation, housing, sports, and business. When he left WBEZ, Schaper was the station's political reporter, editor, and a frequent fill-in news anchor and program host. He was also a frequent guest panelist on public television's Chicago Tonight and Chicago Week in Review.

Since beginning his career at Wisconsin Public Radio's WLSU-FM, Schaper worked in Chicago as a writer and editor for WBBM-AM and as a reporter and anchor for WXRT-FM. He also worked at commercial stations WMAY-AM (Springfield, IL) and WIZM-AM and FM (La Crosse, WI), and in Illinois at public stations WSSU-FM (now WUIS) and WDCB-FM.

Schaper was born and raised in Chicago's western suburbs. He earned a B.S. at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, and an M.A. from the University of Illinois-Springfield. Schaper and his wife Kathy, live in Chicago with their three children.

Pages

6:24am

Thu July 23, 2015
U.S.

After Cold, Icy Winters, Lake Michigan Is Rising Rapidly

Originally published on Thu July 23, 2015 9:40 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Water levels in the Great Lakes are rising from record lows. Lakes Huron and Michigan are 3 feet higher than a year ago. Here's NPR's David Schaper.

Read more

5:52pm

Thu July 2, 2015
Around the Nation

Busy Travel Weekend Raises Concerns About Transportation Infrastructure

Originally published on Thu July 2, 2015 6:35 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Read more

3:30am

Fri June 19, 2015
U.S.

Battle Over New Oil Train Standards Pits Safety Against Cost

Originally published on Fri June 19, 2015 3:30 pm

Oil trains sit idle on the BNSF Railway's tracks in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood.
David Schaper NPR

The federal government's new rules aimed at preventing explosive oil train derailments are sparking a backlash from all sides.

The railroads, oil producers and shippers say some of the new safety requirements are unproven and too costly, yet some safety advocates and environmental groups say the regulations aren't strict enough and still leave too many people at risk.

Read more

6:01pm

Thu June 11, 2015
The Two-Way

Parties Say They Trust Hastert Judge's Impartiality

Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert this week pleaded not guilty to breaking banking laws and lying about the money to the FBI. The federal judge in the case will preside over it after the parties declined his offer to recuse himself.
Christian K. Lee AP

The federal judge overseeing the criminal case of former House Speaker Dennis Hastert will continue to preside over it, even though he made campaign contributions to Hastert, as neither the prosecution nor the defense see it as a conflict of interest.

During Hastert's arraignment Tuesday, Chicago U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Durkin acknowledged that in 2002 and 2004, he contributed $500 and $1,000 to Hastert's campaign through his law firm, but he said he had never met the speaker.

Read more

3:48am

Wed June 3, 2015
U.S.

Most Commuter Rails Won't Meet Deadline For Mandated Safety Systems

Originally published on Wed June 3, 2015 7:59 am

Despite Congress mandating all railroads be equipped with a Positive Train Control system by the end of the year, Chicago's Metra system isn't expected to reach that goal until 2019. Most commuter trains won't meet the deadline.
M. Spencer Green AP

Many investigators say Positive Train Control (PTC), an automated safety system, could have prevented last month's Amtrak train derailment. Amtrak officials have said they will have PTC installed throughout the northeast corridor by the end of this year, which is the deadline mandated by Congress.

But the vast majority of other commuter railroad systems, which provided nearly 500 million rides in 2014, won't be able to fully implement positive train control for several more years.

Read more

7:38pm

Thu May 28, 2015
Law

Former House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert Indicted By Federal Grand Jury

Originally published on Thu May 28, 2015 9:01 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Read more

7:58am

Sat May 16, 2015
U.S.

Red Tape Slows Control System That Could Have Saved Speeding Train

Originally published on Sat May 16, 2015 7:35 pm

Officials attend the launch of a Positive Train Control system for Los Angeles' Metrolink commuter trains in February 2014 at Los Angeles Union Station. Congress mandated the technology after a Metrolink engineer ran a red light while he was texting and crashed head-on with a freight train in 2008.
Damian Dovarganes AP

National Transportation Safety Board investigators say Positive Train Control — a system of satellites, communication towers and complex software that makes sure trains' safely follow their routes — would have prevented Tuesday's Amtrak train derailment in Philadelphia, which killed eight passengers.

Read more

6:04am

Wed May 6, 2015
The Two-Way

Chicago Creates Reparations Fund For Victims Of Police Torture

Originally published on Wed May 6, 2015 1:43 pm

Stanley Wrice pauses in December 2013 as he speaks to the media with his lawyer, Heidi Linn Lambros (left), and his daughter, Gail Lewis, while leaving Pontiac Correctional Center in Pontiac, Ill. Wrice was released after serving more than 30 years. He claimed for decades that Chicago police detectives under the command of then-Lt. Jon Burge beat and coerced him into confessing to rape.
M. Spencer Green AP

Updated at 1:30 p.m. ET.

The city of Chicago has become the first in the nation to create a reparations fund for victims of police torture, after the City Council unanimously approved the $5.5 million package.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says the abuse and torture of scores of mostly black, male suspects in the 1970s, '80s and early '90s by former police Cmdr. Jon Burge and his detectives is a "stain that cannot be removed from our city's history."

Read more

7:39am

Sat March 28, 2015
Europe

Safety Experts Question Mental Screenings For Pilots

Originally published on Sat March 28, 2015 10:56 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Read more

5:56pm

Wed March 18, 2015
It's All Politics

Chicago Mayor's Race Reveals Deep Divide In Democratic Party

Originally published on Wed March 18, 2015 7:39 pm

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel failed to capture a majority of the vote last month, forcing him into a runoff. It's highlighting a divide among Democrats playing out nationally.
Charles Rex Arbogast AP

One of the nation's savviest politicians is in an unexpected fight.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, President Obama's former White House chief of staff, is in an unprecedented runoff election next month.

The challenger, Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, contends that Emanuel favors the rich and powerful over working-class Chicagoans. But Emanuel is firing back, attacking Garcia for having no plan to deal with the city's deep financial problems.

Read more

5:02pm

Thu March 12, 2015
All Tech Considered

Silicon Prairie: Tech Startups Find A Welcoming Home In The Midwest

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 7:50 am

Lincoln, Neb., is home to several startups, which use the city's low cost of living and high quality of life to attract workers.
Nicolas Henderson Flickr

Some startup entrepreneurs are leaving the high tech hot spots of San Francisco, New York and the Silicon Valley for greener pastures in a place that actually has greener pastures: Lincoln, Neb.

In fact, one of the secrets to the economic success of Lincoln, a city with one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, is a surprisingly strong tech startup community that is part of what some in the region are calling the Silicon Prairie.

Read more

3:58am

Mon March 2, 2015
U.S.

A Nearly Recession-Proof City Is Not Slowing Down

Originally published on Mon March 2, 2015 8:15 am

Lincoln has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in revitalizing its downtown, a historic area called Haymarket, to create a more culturally vibrant urban center that is helping the city keep and attract young adults.
David Schaper NPR

At 2.5 percent, Lincoln, Neb., has one of the lowest jobless figures in the country. But that's nothing new — the city has ranked at or near the top of the nation, with one of the lowest unemployment rates for years, even during the Great Recession.

But on a recent visit, it's clear that Lincoln is not resting on its laurels. It's working hard at keeping and drawing talent to this city of nearly 300,000.

Read more

3:16am

Thu February 5, 2015
The Two-Way

U.N. Agency Sets New Standards For Tracking Aircraft In Flight

Originally published on Thu February 5, 2015 8:11 am

The United Nations' aviation organization is endorsing a new standard meant to keep air traffic authorities and airlines from losing track of a jetliner, such as Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

That plane disappeared into the Indian Ocean almost a year ago with 239 people on board.

Under the new policy, commercial airliners would be required to transmit their location every 15 minutes and every minute if in distress.

Read more

5:01am

Mon January 19, 2015
Politics

Private Sector Included In Plan To Finance Infrastructure Repairs

Originally published on Mon January 19, 2015 7:37 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

4:16pm

Tue January 13, 2015
Around the Nation

NTSB: D.C. Metro Incident Highlights Need To Improve Transit Safety

Originally published on Tue January 13, 2015 6:45 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

3:20am

Wed December 24, 2014
Around the Nation

The Year In Air Travel: Packed Planes And More Perks — For A Price

Originally published on Wed December 24, 2014 10:37 am

It's been a good year for commercial airlines.

With the economy recovering, more people are getting on planes and flying for both business and pleasure. And the cost of fuel, one of the airlines' biggest expenses, is dropping.

But as anyone traveling for the holidays can tell you, airfares remain high. And many frequent fliers at Chicago O'Hare International Airport say they wouldn't give the airlines perfect grades this year.

Read more

9:36am

Sun December 21, 2014
Latin America

Ready To Hit The Cuban Beach? Americans Still Have To Wait

Originally published on Mon December 22, 2014 12:12 pm

A couple walks on the beach in the resort area of Varadero, Cuba. Varadero is home to upscale hotels and resorts that cater to foreign tourists, but there aren't yet enough to handle a potential influx of Americans.
David Gilkey NPR

With President Obama beginning the process of normalizing relations with Cuba this week, many may envision soon soaking up the sun on a warm Cuban beach, sipping a refreshing rum drink.

In reality, that's not likely to happen for quite a while. But just the increased opportunity for travel between the two countries has those with longtime ties to Cuba already thinking about the possibilities it will bring.

Read more

4:58pm

Mon December 8, 2014
Business

GOP Leaders: Gas Tax Hike Could Fuel Fixes To Bad Roads And Bridges

Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 1:57 pm

Thomas Harden of Chicago pumps gas into his truck. He says he wouldn't support a gas tax increase.
David Schaper NPR

Gasoline prices are at their lowest level in four years. The price at the pump in many states is almost a full dollar cheaper than it was last spring.

So some politicians think this is a good time to raise gasoline taxes. Several states are tired of waiting for Congress to fix the federal highway trust fund, so they're considering raising gas taxes themselves to address their crumbling roads.

Read more

6:31pm

Wed October 29, 2014
Around the Nation

As Infrastructure Crumbles, Trillions Of Gallons Of Water Lost

Originally published on Wed October 29, 2014 7:13 pm

A water maintenance crew works on leaky infrastructure in Skokie, a Chicago suburb. The area loses almost 22 billion gallons of water a year because of ailing infrastructure.
David Schaper NPR

Imagine Manhattan under almost 300 feet of water. Not water from a hurricane or a tsunami, but purified drinking water — 2.1 trillion gallons of it.

That's the amount of water that researchers estimate is lost each year in this country because of aging and leaky pipes, broken water mains and faulty meters.

Fixing that infrastructure won't be cheap, which is something every water consumer is likely to discover.

Read more

10:43am

Sat October 4, 2014
Around the Nation

FAA Chief: No Quick Fix To Prevent Another Fire Like Chicago

Originally published on Sat October 4, 2014 1:50 pm

Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Michael Huerta answers questions Friday after touring the Chicago air traffic control center with Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill. (left), and city aviation Commissioner Rosemarie Andolino.
Charles Rex Arbogast AP

The head of the Federal Aviation Administration is trying to deflect criticism over an arson fire at an air traffic control center that shut down Chicago's airports last week.

Administrator Michael Huerta toured the fire-damaged Chicago air traffic control center in suburban Aurora on Friday with members of the Illinois congressional delegation.

Huerta admitted the agency has no quick fix to prevent a similar shutdown of a control facility from paralyzing air traffic across the country.

Read more

11:52am

Fri September 26, 2014
The Two-Way

Lights, Camera, Drones: Hollywood's Lens Gets A Little Larger

Originally published on Fri September 26, 2014 4:08 pm

A Parrot Bebop drone flies during a demonstration in May in San Francisco.
Jeff Chiu AP

Hollywood is getting the green light to fly its own drones.

The Federal Aviation Administration is giving approval to six movie and TV production companies to use drones for filming. And the move could pave the way for the unmanned aircraft systems to be used in other commercial ventures.

The FAA will permit the six companies to use remote-controlled drones to shoot movies and video for TV shows and commercials, but there will be certain limitations.

Read more

5:12pm

Sat August 23, 2014
Around the Nation

Generation Gap Divides Local Opinion On Ferguson Protests

Originally published on Sat August 23, 2014 10:52 pm

Demonstrators protest the death of Michael Brown on Friday in Ferguson, Mo. Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer on August 9.
Scott Olson Getty Images

Police in Ferguson, Mo., are bracing for the possibility of a large protest Saturday night, as the community marks two weeks since a police officer shot and killed unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Racial tensions have cooled considerably in the St. Louis suburb, after nearly 10 days of loud, raucous and sometimes violent protests. During those demonstrations, some protesters would throw rocks, bottles and Molotov cocktails at police, who responded with rubber bullets, smoke bombs and tear gas.

Read more

4:17pm

Wed August 13, 2014
Around the Nation

In The Absence Of Answers, Protests Fill Ferguson's Silence

Originally published on Wed August 13, 2014 9:14 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Read more

4:05pm

Tue August 12, 2014
Around the Nation

In Ferguson Shooting's Tumultuous Wake, Leaders Call For Peace And Protest

Originally published on Tue August 12, 2014 9:45 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

8:11am

Sat July 19, 2014
Europe

Airspace Over Ukraine Was Not Considered Unsafe

Originally published on Sat July 19, 2014 8:39 pm

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Most airlines are now diverting their planes away from the Ukrainian-Russian border to avoid the area where the Malaysia Airlines plane was shot-down. The Federal Aviation Administration banned U.S. operations in the air space around Crimea back in April. Aviation authorities in other countries warned about flying through parts of the region, too. But those restricted flight zones are some distance away from where flight 17 went down. NPR's David Schaper reports.

Read more

7:55am

Sun July 6, 2014
Around the Nation

First Responders Unprepared For Another Train Disaster

Originally published on Sun July 6, 2014 12:50 pm

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Ever since that Canadian train derailment, first responders all across North America wonder, what if it happens here? And as NPR's David Schaper reports from this side of the border, many say they don't have the training, the equipment or the manpower necessary to respond to an oil train disaster in their cities and towns.

DAVID SCHAPER, BYLINE: The images of that fiery blast that incinerated much of Lac-Megantic's downtown last summer still haunt many first responders.

Read more

4:01am

Wed July 2, 2014
Around the Nation

For Sale: Vacant Lots On Chicago Blocks, Just $1 Each

Originally published on Wed July 2, 2014 2:08 pm

Sonya Harper picks peppermint she's been growing in a vacant lot on her block in Chicago. With her neighbors, she's hoping to acquire two adjacent overgrown lots under the city's "Large Lot Program" so they can expand the community garden.
David Schaper

Chicago is practically giving away land: vacant lots for just $1 each. The catch? To buy one, you must already own a home on the same block.

Like many U.S. cities, Chicago has struggled with what to do with a growing number of empty lots in the wake of the foreclosure crisis. Efforts to develop affordable housing or urban farms have had some mixed results.

So Chicago officials and community development advocates hope the vacant lot program can help spark a renewal in some of the city's most blighted areas.

Read more

3:16am

Thu June 26, 2014
Around the Nation

Rainstorms Pummel Upper Midwest, Drowning Resources

Originally published on Thu June 26, 2014 2:28 pm

Flooding across the Upper Midwest, including Iowa, over the last couple weeks has soaked homes and fields and left local governments scrambling.
Dirk Lammers AP

Heavy rains over the past couple of weeks have rivers rising all across the Upper Midwest, flooding homes, swamping fields and washing out roads.

Fans hum 24/7 as Laura Westra tries to dry out her sopping-wet basement in the small town of Rock Valley, Iowa.

The nearby Rock River, in the northwest corner of the state, swelled last week wider and deeper than anyone can remember.

"We've lived here 45 years, and this is the first time we had water in the basement," Westra says.

Read more

4:07pm

Mon June 16, 2014
Around the Nation

Chicago Gets Out From Under Its History Of Political Patronage

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

4:23pm

Fri June 13, 2014
The Two-Way

Chicago 'Heroin Highway' Bust Shows A 'New Face Of Organized Crime'

Originally published on Fri June 13, 2014 5:56 pm

Authorities say the drug operation allowed customers to pay at one location, pick up the heroin at another and be back on the expressway within minutes.
Scott Olson Getty Images

Authorities say they've broken up a major heroin and crack cocaine distribution ring in Chicago.

A joint federal and local task force that includes the DEA, FBI, Chicago police and other law enforcement agencies arrested and charged more than two dozen gang members who allegedly supplied a significant amount of heroin to customers coming from the city and suburbs.

Read more

Pages